Stage Door News
Toronto: Cassilis brings “Human Measure” to Canadian Stage October 27-29
Friday, September 23, 2022
As the 22.23 season gets underway, Canadian Stage is thrilled to bring back CS Platform this fall. CS Platform programming is designed to introduce audiences to some of the world’s most vanguard artists who are pushing at the boundaries of the artform. The program resumes this year with HUMAN MEASURE, from internationally acclaimed visual and performance artist Cassils, on stage at the Berkeley Street Theatre October 27-29.
“CS Platform is a crucial way for Canadian Stage to contribute to the performance ecology of our city by showcasing some of the most important and adventurous artists of today, and Cassils is a definitive way to re-launch the program,” says Canadian Stage Artistic Director Brendan Healy. “The material for all Cassils’ work is their own body, which they expose to great extremes of physical exertion and danger. There is a powerful exploration of gender and violence in the work and a critical awareness that trans visibility can also become an opportunity for surveillance and risk.”
HUMAN MEASURE, Cassils’s debut in contemporary dance, had its World Premiere at Manchester’s HOME arts center late last year as part of a major retrospective of the artist’s work. The work is made in collaboration with renowned US choreographer Jasmine Albuquerque, composer Kadet Kuhne, lighting designer Christopher Kuhl and a team of five trans and nonbinary performers.
Against an unprecedented backdrop of US-based anti-trans legislation HUMAN MEASURE asks: how do we manifest empowerment, sensuality, and self-actualization in a society that actively tries to erase us? Insisting upon plurality and avoiding legibility, HUMAN MEASURE straddles dance and the history of photography. Purposefully designed to be difficult to see, the work is staged in the low levels of red light found in photographic darkrooms. The viewer's physiology is hijacked as live ‘after images’ are seared into the audience's retina by a massive flashing light box, culminating in the active development of one of the world's largest cyanotypes, on stage in real-time.
"Cassils repeatedly resists the binds of definition, or a need for ‘proof’ of one’s existence. The bodies in the cyanotype appear x-ray like, yet non-medicalised. Instead, the messy, dripping, sweaty residue of the body is repeatedly left throughout Cassils’ work... which Cassils describes as “indexical of the choreography” in the way it captures the moment of impact of the bodies hitting the floor and lying prone." - Dance Art Journal
With movement rooted in kinesiology, martial arts, sports science, and personal safety protocols, Cassils reinterprets Yves Klein’s Anthropometries paintings. As opposed to the models in Klein’s work who acted as passive “human paintbrushes,” the performers in HUMAN MEASURE wield the double-edged sword of representation in a collective process of empowered labor.
Cassils (they/them), originally from Montréal and now residing in New York/Los Angeles, is one of the most compelling artists working today. Their work has been shown around the world, including in current exhibits at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Nikolaj Kunstal in Copenhagen, and the Montalvo Arts Center in California. Cassils has risen to global recognition using their own body as the material and protagonist of their performances. Working in live performance, sculpture, photography, sound design and film, Cassils contemplates the history(s) of LGBTQI+ violence, representation, struggle, and power.
About HUMAN MEASURE:
A Canadian Stage presentation
October 27 – 29, 2022 at the Berkeley St Theatre
Created by Cassils
Choreographer: Jasmine Albuquerque
Lighting designer: Christopher Kuhl
Composer: Kadet Kuhne
Cyanotype Technical Director: Bonny Taylor
Stage Manager: Gina Young
Producer: Diana Wyenn, Plain Wood Productions
Producer: Gina Young
Alucard Mendoza McHaney
Kaydence De Mere
Please note HUMAN MEASURE is performed in very low lighting, features sound at a high volume, and contains, nudity, strobe, flashing lights, and haze.
We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.
Human Measure was further supported by The National Arts Centre’s National Creation Fund.
Human Measure was first commissioned on the occasion of the solo exhibition, CASSILS: HUMAN MEASURE, 2021, HOME Manchester, UK, curated by Bren O’Callaghan.
Tickets for HUMAN MEASURE range from $29-$89. Single tickets are now available at www.canadianstage.com. This production runs from October 27 to October 29, 2022, with performances at 8:00pm.
Photo: Scene from Human Measure. © 2021 Bonnie Taylor.